MAY 28, 2017 8:55 AM PDT

Humans Accidentally Created a Protective Bubble Around the Earth

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

When it comes to the impact humans have had on the Earth, the evidence spans much further than just the surface, but also the outer space surrounding our lovely planet.

Not only have we sent so much space junk into orbit around our planet, but we’ve also discovered that our use of VLF (very low frequency) radio equipment is interacting with our magnetic field to form a set of protective bubbles around our planet that shield us from different forms of cosmic radiation.

An illustration of the protective bubble caused by VLF radio equipment that surrounds and protects the Earth.

Image Credit: NASA

The discovery, made in part by NASA's Van Allen probes, was published in the journal Space Science Reviews.

Related: Did a solar storm damage the Earth's magnetic field?

VLF equipment is stationed on the surface of our planet and is used to beam high-power radio frequencies deep within our oceans to communicate with our submarines. On the other hand, whole most of this radio frequency makes it where it needs to go, some of it makes it into the atmosphere and beyond.

Probing into how these protective VLF bubbles impacts charged particles from space, researchers have discovered that our man-made shield actually influences how and where they travel, effectively moving them away from our planet.

“A number of experiments and observations have figured out that, under the right conditions, radio communications signals in the VLF frequency range can in fact affect the properties of the high-energy radiation environment around the Earth,” said Phil Erickson, assistant director at the MIT Haystack Observatory, Westford, Massachusetts.

These bubbles can be seen not only from the surface of the Earth, but also from the satellites that are orbiting our planet.

Interestingly, the bubbles have only increased in size as our planet became more active in the arts of VLF transmission. Several decades ago, when the use of VLF equipment wasn’t as common, the bubble was much smaller and did less to protect our planet when compared to today.

The research is inspiring enough that experts in the field would like to perform tests higher up in the atmosphere to see if VLF equipment can be used to remove excess charged particles and radiation from the Earth’s atmosphere during times of higher solar activity. 

Related: The Earth's magnetic field is cracked, so are we in danger?

It ought to be interesting to see what becomes of this research. Perhaps we’re onto something that could extend the life of our planet and our expensive satellites from radiation coming from the great beyond.

Source: NASA

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
NOV 14, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Evidence of Supernovae Found in Ancient Tree Rings
NOV 14, 2020
Evidence of Supernovae Found in Ancient Tree Rings
Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have found that the rings in Earth's ancient trees may hold evid ...
DEC 06, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Watching a Nebula Fade
DEC 06, 2020
Watching a Nebula Fade
Nebulas are vast clouds of dust and gas that are remnants of exploded stars or in other cases, nurseries for where stars ...
MAY 01, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Small Galaxies Played Key Role in Evolution of the Universe
MAY 01, 2021
Small Galaxies Played Key Role in Evolution of the Universe
Astrophysicists from the University of Minnesota have found evidence for the theory that small galaxies emitting high-en ...
MAY 09, 2021
Space & Astronomy
NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter Completes Its First One-Way Trip on Mars
MAY 09, 2021
NASA's Ingenuity Helicopter Completes Its First One-Way Trip on Mars
NASA sent the Perseverance rover to Mars loaded with cutting edge technology, one piece of which is a robotic helicopter ...
MAY 15, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Earth's Core has 70 Times More Hydrogen than the Oceans
MAY 15, 2021
Earth's Core has 70 Times More Hydrogen than the Oceans
Researchers from the University of Tokyo have found that under certain extreme conditions, hydrogen particles can bond s ...
JUN 08, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Astrophysicists Discover Origins of First Structures in Milky Way
JUN 08, 2021
Astrophysicists Discover Origins of First Structures in Milky Way
A team of scientists led by the Centre for Astrobiology have discovered that the bulges we see in disc galaxies formed i ...
Loading Comments...